It is getting to be that time of year again. Many agencies and funders are finishing up their fiscal year and planning for the next one. Funders are requesting final reports and agencies are deciding what to include in next year’s budget.
This is a wonderful time for grant professionals and development staff. You are able to collect data and stories about the effect your programs have had on your clients. Plus, program staff are already thinking about their needs for next year as they build their budgets. Most of them will be told that one or more items cannot be included in the budget. Or you may be able to work with the finance department to determine what items in the program budgets can be funded through grants.
Try to get a budget from every program, including details about when they need their funding. Then, create a grant calendar that will respond to those needs. First put in previous funders who like specific programs that have specific deadlines. Next, fill in funders who might fund one or more of your programs who have specific deadlines. Place your thoughts about what programs they could fund next to them so you remember for later in this process.
When that is done, figure out when you have time to fit in those funders who have rolling deadlines. Do you have funders who fund you every year, who are expecting a request around a certain time (month or quarter)? They should go into the calendar next. How about funders who only fit one of your programs? Make sure they are put into the calendar next.
You might try to put requests for the same program around the same time in your calendar so you can write them at the same time for greater efficiency. Just make sure you aren’t writing the exact same proposal to each or mixing up the funders names in the proposals.
When you have that done, go back to the funders with specific deadlines but multiple program options. Look at what funding you still need by that time frame. Make sure you have extra options as few agencies receive 100% of what they request. These “extra” funders are perfect for those funders who have rolling deadlines and several of your programs could be strong matches for their priorities.
Last, look and see what outstanding needs you still have and begin researching new opportunities or developing new relationships. Remember, just like individual giving, most foundation gifts start out small and then grow as they learn more about your agency over time. The time to starting building those relationships is not when you have an immediate or pressing need for those funding, but now!